Butter Files: I smell dead things

I must have been  11 or 12-years-old when my father was summoned to the hill  by the uncles.  Old Bob had gone into the woods and never come out. They put together a search party to find the body. Maybe  it was just their pessimistic yankee natures or maybe I was shielded from  the facts of the situation,  but no one seemed  to hold out much hope that Bob wasn’t dead.  No one seemed  to think  Bob was injured  or that Bob had gotten lost.  Bob went into the woods and died and it was their job to go into the woods and  find  him.

I hoped my father wouldn’t be  the one  to find  him. I wonder if he felt the same way.  Putting myself in that situation, I can see  my competitive nature running ahead  of my chicken heart, wanting to be  the first to ring the bell on Bob’s remains.  My inner beasts do battle occasionally. I didn’t want that for my father, though. I hoped he would take  a lot of cigarette breaks and also lose his glasses.

A couple days into the search someone brought their special dogs. These dogs were trained to sniff out dead things.  “Once you’ve smelled something dead,  you never forget the smell” my  Dad said.  And that’s how they found Bob, who did indeed  turn up dead.

I’ve imagined ever since that I can smell  dead things.  I have no actual experience to support this claim.  There is just this scent that, over the years, I’ve associated with death.  Eau de Dead.  Kind of sweet with a soupçon of decay thrown in. Whenever this smell infiltrates my senses I  think  of my father and the uncles  out searching the woods for Bob with those special dogs.  Which  brings me to my morning walk.  Earlier today I walked  past a house in my neighborhood and a sickly sweet familiar scent reached out to greet  me.  Something is dead  there, I thought to myself, and kept walking.

Sometimes my chicken heart asks no  questions.

Chicken out


Pretty sure this sweet fellow doesn’t smell dead things for a living. Look at those eyes. Awww.  Let’s just look at him and forget I was talking about smelling dead things.  Sometimes I don’t know what gets into me.

  13 comments for “Butter Files: I smell dead things

  1. jenny_o
    October 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Ohhh, that is so NOT GOOD, Chicken. The smell of dead in the neighbourhood, I mean. I do hope it was just an animal that crawled under a verandah and went to its reward there.

    I’ve smelled a dead mouse in the wall. Three times. It’s not good, either. I finally convinced my husband to cut a trap door in the wall so we can let the mousies out when we hear them scratching. This was no small feat, this victory of the soft-hearted over the practical-minded. Guess what? Not a single mousie since then. But we still have the trap door.

    Back to your problem. Maybe you ought to take a different route on your walk for a few weeks …


    • October 15, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Hi Jenny, well…I don’t really have any proof. Just one of those weird mind things-I smell that smell and I think of that story. I guess I imagine that it is what death could smell like. I’m fortunate enough not to have had any experience to know one way or the other. That was a great idea you had to make a little trap door for the mice. I love that story. So sweet. Just curious-is it on the inside or the outside?


      • jenny_o
        October 16, 2014 at 3:08 am

        It is inside the closet in the kitchen. We don’t know how they keep getting into the wall. It’s a tight building. But there must be a way, because they keep/kept ending up in the wall. So the trap door doesn’t show unless everything is out of the closet. The day my husband finally made the hole, the latest mouse found its way out of the wall and I came home to find it perched on the doorknob of the kitchen door. I had to put the cat in another room while I dealt with it, came back to find it GONE. My raincoat had been hanging on the same doorknob so I wished mightily that the mouse had run into a fold of the coat, picked it up with my thumb and one finger, and flang – FLANG, I say – that coat onto the deck outside. No mouse was found in the house after that. Well, except for one, but that’s a different story. Footnote: I checked that raincoat three times for mice before I took it inside.


      • October 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

        So you don’t like them but you didn’t want them to die in the wall, either. That’s nice. You overcame your fears for the good of another creature. I would have also flang the coat onto the porch. And then washed it and then taken it to the dry cleaners and then probably donated it to Goodwill just to be on the safe side:-)


      • jenny_o
        October 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm



  2. Doug in Oakland
    October 15, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    A few days after a big earthquake in Mexico City, the rescue dogs were getting depressed because there weren’t any more live people to find, only dead ones. So they got people to hide in the rubble for the dogs to find to cheer them up.


    • October 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Doug-poor dogs. I don’t blame them for getting depressed. The humans must have been pretty depressed, too.


  3. October 16, 2014 at 1:27 am

    How did the ‘summon him’? Did they have a bell, a gong?
    Bob….is this J.R. “Bob” Dobbs? I guess I could go on, but what’s the point.
    Yeah, I can do this too.
    I’ve smelled the dead, more times than I care to recall. It’s a whole lot less than pleasant, and not something I care to repeat.


    • October 16, 2014 at 2:04 am

      I kind of figured you might have some experience with this. I hope you never do again. They summoned him by carrier pigeon. Or phone. One of the two. Smoke signal if the line was busy and the pigeons were on strike. Nothing worse than a pigeon union strike.


  4. ganymeder
    October 16, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Poor Bob, and your father and the uncles! What I really liked about this story was tone and the way you described the smell. Very visceral.


    • October 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Hi Ganymeder-thanks so much for reading it. I really appreciate the feedback. I know, poor Bob. I’m really reaching into the memory banks now, but I seem to recall something about a gambling debt. But memories are funny things and mine isn’t always all that accurate.


  5. October 19, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I’ve never smelled that scent, either, but they say it’s very memorable. What an experience for you as a child.


Your turn...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

B.I. Redux

One chicken. So many roads.

Mind the Wanderings

One chicken. So many roads.

Hamlets & Hyperspace

Sci Fi & Fantasy Book Reviews

The Phil Factor

Where Sarcasm Gets Drunk and Lets Its Hair Down

Miss Judy Writes

a writer, reader, gardener and foodie

Freethinkers Anonymous

It's another story.


Come for the laughs, stay for the lunacy

Patrick Tillett

One chicken. So many roads.

jenny's lark

the beauty of an ordinary life

Momentum of Joy

Spirituality, Reality, & Everything In Between

Object Relations

"A Word of Substance"


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Wishbone Soup Cures Everything

One chicken. So many roads.

The Way I Sew It

One chicken. So many roads.

Cup on the Bus

One chicken. So many roads.

idioglossia: the blog

Be open, be free, a space for anything unsaid and unsayable.

Think Stew

One chicken. So many roads.

Procrastinating Donkey

One chicken. So many roads.


“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man.” - Albert Einstein

Trainride Of The Enigmas

One chicken. So many roads.

Genial Misanthrope

One chicken. So many roads.

The AC is On

One chicken. So many roads.

%d bloggers like this: